Archived Q&A and Reviews
Sharing the Progress Report with the Child Feb 1999
I'm interested in hearing from parents about how you handle your child's progress reports from school. At what point (if ever) is it appropriate to share the actual contents of the report with your child (ie.let him/her read it). Our daughter is in the 2nd grade and has always been somewhat shy, and also extremely strong academically. Her progress report that arrived last week contains several glowing paragraphs about her academic ability, her maturity, and kindness and generosity toward her peers. It also contains several pages with a detailed breakdown of skill areas, and how they're doing along a continuum of development. She has the highest possible rating in everything except in a few areas such as participates in group discussions. Even in these areas she is just a hint away from the highest rating, so it is not a low mark, and this is very much in line with what we would expect given her shyness. Originally we were not planning to share any parts of this report with her. Then I spoke with friend who feels strongly that 8-9 year old girls are beginning to figure out their place in the world and outside validation is crucial at this point. She thought that we could let our daughter read the paragraphs of comments and not the lengthier breakdown portion of the report. This seems like a good idea, but would like to hear other opinions as well. Thank you.
From: Barbara (2/99)
I generously share progress reports. At the 2nd grade, I'd probably read it to her, telling her all the good things the teacher said and something like, your teacher likes it when you participate in class discussions. The only thing I might censor would be a negative comment about a sensitive child. We don't get the continuum type of report, just grades and comments. It doesn't take many reports, though, until I get lazy and forget to put them away. Then they're on the table for all to read.
From: Linda (2/99)
Re progress reports: I have always let my son read his progress reports (he started reading at 4, so he started reading the reports in kindergarten). Like your dghtr, he's very gifted academically, way ahead in all areas. But he's not socially adept. . My son is shy and feels more at ease with academics than playtime. I told him from the beginning that I was really proud of how well he does in academic subjects, but that there are other things to learn at school as well, such as how to participate in a group, how to speak up, how to make friends, how to make conversation, and so on. I labeled these social skills. I said that some kids go to kindergarten to learn reading, some have to really work to learn math. But his job in school, since he already knew reading and math, was to work on his social skills. He'll notice, I told him, that social skills come as easily to some kids as math does to him, so their job in school was to learn math. I emphasized that EVERYONE has something to work on. We strategize with each other and with teachers to work on his social skills. He's in second grade now and progressing well in the social skills area. I think it was really important to let him know that there are some things he's going to have to work at, but that he CAN improve, and that I and the teachers will help. I think my approach let him know that he wasn't being criticized or stigmatized or wrong, but simply that he needed to try new approaches in this area where he isn't so advanced. He talks about social skills now and how he's improving. It's still not easy for him, but he's beginning to see that better social skills can make his life easier. Not as easy as hiding out in the corner with a book, granted, but he understands he can (and must) become part of a social structure. Each positive interaction reinforces the reasons why I insist that he work in this area. The progress reports from the teachers reflect that he is improving, too. They let him know that the world values these skills and that he can and does get better at them. I don't know if any of this willbe helpful for you, but it's been good for my son. You might try discussing with your dghtr's teacher that you will be sharing the report with your child...if there are words or phrases you don't want used (some people object to shy, since it sometimes connotes a permanent condition rather than just another area in which learning should and can occur.) Good luck!
I personally feel that you should share the information with your child, especially because it's good, positive feedback. Make sure you let her know how proud you are of her, but also let her know that if she has any problems, she can count on you for help. I was especially interested in how detailed these progress reports are and would like to know from which school they come. Would the person who posted this notice please tell us?
regarding progress reports: we're still making policy on this one, but we're moving toward treating them as family-public documents, warts and all. If either child demanded privacy, we'd honor that, but otherwise I feel it's better to get them out in the open for casual discussion; it tends to makeany problems everyone's problems, not just those of the one whose report card they're on; and tends to reassure the problem student that everyone loves him/her no matter how bad his/her spelling is; and sends the message that this is a report card, not the Last Judgment. (Not that our children ever bring home anything but stellar report cards.)
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